7 great government-backed inventions

It's under fire for backing now-bankrupt Solyndra, but the government has a long history of investing in cutting-edge technology. Without it, many products we can't live without may not have been developed, such as...

The Wii
The Wii

OK, so the government didn't invent the Wii itself, but its money was instrumental in developing the device that makes it work.

Known as an accelerometer, this doohickey measures changes in speed and it was developed by the military to help guide weapons.

Now it's used to detect sudden changes in movement on the Wii's hand-held controller, simulating the movements of a golf club or tennis racquet.

"Without it, the Wii wouldn't be possible," said Michael Cima, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's department of Materials Science and Engineering.

It's also the device that detects when a car has come to an abrupt stop, signaling the deployment of an airbag.

By Steve Hargreaves - Last updated October 20 2011: 4:09 PM ET
Join the Conversation
Most Popular

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2018 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2018. All rights reserved. Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor's Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2018 and/or its affiliates.